Thursday, April 26, 2012

A Paleontology-Specific Impact Factor for PLoS ONE

The threads at SV-POW! are hopping right now, particularly with one commenting on open access in Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology. One question that came up is how much, if at all, the impact factor of PLoS ONE (4.411 for 2010) indicates the reach of paleontology papers in that journal. In other words, if PLoS ONE just published paleontology papers, what would its IF be?

Naturally, I had to calculate it out. I used the standard IF formula, and looked just at citations in 2010 for papers published in 2008 and 2009. Citation counts were derived from Web of Science, which is linked to from each individual article at the PLoS ONE website. Articles under consideration from 2008 and 2009 were harvested from the PLoS ONE Paleontology Collection; one or two articles in there were only tangentially paleontological, but I kept them in anyhow just for consistency.

I calculated a "paleontology IF" of 3.317 for 2010 - a little lower than 4.411 for the overall journal but still higher than in other more field-specific publications. So, not too shabby.

This omits the issue of whether or not impact factors are worth anything, but I won't delve into that here. Love it or loathe it, we scientists still like to talk about IF!


Ross Mounce said...

By my calculations PLoS One's 2010 "paleontology impact factor" is 4.15

(using Google Scholar)

but yeah, it's good basically.

Andy said...

Thanks for the pointer back to your article - apologies for neglecting it!

Ross Mounce said...

No probs ;)

It's interesting to see such a difference between Web of Knowledge & Google Scholar citation counts.

People tend to rely on Web of Knowledge because the data is 'cleaner' and it's what the official (proprietary) Impact Factor uses. BUT, although messier - Google Scholar is more inclusive in what it counts, such as Brazilian journals like Caminhos de Geografia.

I wonder what distorting effects this has on our view of 'impact'?

Does impact in South American journals not 'count'?!?! These are all further good reasons why we should ween ourselves off depending on Thomson Reuters Impact Factor - it's flawed in so many different ways, and some just don't realise this!

Andy said...

Much agreed! I usually prefer Google Scholar, but for this case used Web of Science for better comparability.

220mya said...

Andy, wouldn't it be more comparable to calculate a vertebrate paleontology IF for PLoS One

Andy said...

Probably so - if I have time I might do that tonight. (and respond to your previous email - sorry for the delay!)